Chapter 389: Heavenly Star City and the Star Palace
Han Li had no way of knowing how that potential crisis had resolved itself. As such, he continued to act carefully and flew to the northeast as he was now a wanted criminal and incapable of further remaining in the southwest sea. However, if he were to go to anywhere else, he would need a map of the area, but Han Li only had a map of the southwest sea.
Due to this deficiency, Han Li stopped on a random island after a month of flying.
Although the island wasn't large, it contained a very prosperous market city because of its location on the border of the southwest sea and other territories.
Wanting to be careful, Han Li concealed the appearances of both him and Crooked Soul using a secret technique and even put on a cloak afterwards. As such, apart from those with a higher cultivation than Crooked Soul, they would only be able to see a vague red light with their spiritual sense.
For the rest of the day, Han Li replenished a large amount of materials from the island's market city and bought many ancient records that presented information on the circumstances of the various areas of Scattered Star Seas along with their respective maps. He ended up spending quite a bit.
There were a great number of stores on the island that were overjoyed that such a great spender arrived.
Having bought all he wanted, Han Li didn't dare to linger and left the small island on that same day.
While sitting on his Divine Wind Boat, Han Li took out the jade slips one after another and carefully read through them. After an unknown amount of time, he let out a long breath, tossed the jade slips into his storage pouch, and entered deep contemplation.
After carefully reading through the jade slips, Han Li possessed a general understanding of the Scattered Star Seas.
The Scattered Star Seas were huge, but nobody actually knew how vast they truly were. As no one was stupid enough to attempt to explore its entirety, the sea maps only charted a small portion of the Scattered Star Seas. This was a fact that all cultivators of the Scattered Star Seas acknowledge.
The sea territories that were explored were commonly referred to as the Inner Star Seas, while the unexplored territories were known as the Outer Star Seas. Ordinarily when someone spoke of the "Scattered Star Seas", they were actually referring to the Inner Star Seas.
The Outer Star Seas were also known by the frightful name of the Demon Seas and was the home to inconceivably gigantic demon beasts. They were said to be no weaker than Nascent Soul cultivators. Low grade cultivators that hadn't ventured to the Outer Star Sea would have their jaws drop for quite a while upon hearing this.
Records have even said that in ancient times, regardless of whether it were the inner or outer seas, demon beasts reigned supreme, and cultivators were trapped on small, solitary islands. After an unknown amount of time, the previous generations of the Scattered Star Seas managed to slay the demon beasts one by one, making way for the development of the current Inner Star Seas.
As of today, the superpower named the "Star Palace" reigned over entire Scattered Star Seas. This superpower had existed for so long that even ancient records didn't mention when it had first formed.
While the origins of its creation are uncertain, some believe that it was established by ancient elders that eliminated the demon beasts. Others said that an ancient hero united the Scattered Star Seas at the time, while other rumors are endless and equally contested.
The current Star Palace had established their transcendent Heavenly Star City on a huge island at the center of the Scattered Star Seas. It's two city lords, the Heavenly Star Sages, rule the entire sect from their city.
The two city lords are extremely mysterious and had never left Heavenly Star City or revealed themselves in public. As such, no outsiders had seen their true appearance. However, it is rumored that the two sages weren't late Nascent Soul cultivators, but instead, they were divine beings at the Deity Transformation stage.
After all, the Heavenly Star Sages have been famous for nearly a thousand years. How could common cultivators live for so long?
Apart from the Heavenly Palace and Heavenly Star City, there are eight outer territories and four inner territories in the Inner Star Seas. Each of the territories' three largest islands served to directly govern their respective areas. These cities were known collectively as the twenty-four Outer Star Islands and the twelve Inner Star Islands. They were all subservient to Heavenly Star City.
As for the Stalwart Star Island Han Li had stayed at, it was one of Heavenly Star City's Outer Star Islands
With the addition of the many small subsidiary islands of the star islands, the Star Palace truly held quite a bit of authority.
But what was most notable was that the Star Palace appointed star island lords through two methods.
The twelve Inner Star Islands were each administered by six people chosen by the two great sages. As for the twenty four Outer Star Islands, Heavenly Star City would host a centennial competition where the final victors would each become an island lord and enjoy the status of a regional ruler.
As such, the centennial competition hosted at the Heavenly Star City became known as the Star Selection Assembly. Every time it convened, nearly all the high grade cultivators of the Scattered Star Seas congregated at the city.
Some cultivators came with the dream of becoming an island lord, while others merely wished to broaden their horizon or socialize. There were even those that wished to use the opportunity to exchange medicine pills, materials, cultivation arts and other such items. As it was considered a fleeting opportunity, Heavenly Star City was overcrowded during this time. But even without the additional bustle of the Star Selection Assembly, the Heavenly Star City was a lively city where both villains and heroes dwell.
Apart from a prohibition of fighting in the cities and spirit stones taxes for long term residences, the Star Palace left the city alone, allowing it to become a place of freedom where cultivators of all ranks could come and go as they pleased. As for wanted nefarious cultivators, so long as they didn't stir up trouble in the city, the Star Palace wouldn't take the initiative to arrest them.
The great merchant clans were extremely satisfied with such a free environment and had stores set up in the city year round. They also established their own respective auctions and even acquired many types of spirit stone generating businesses.
As such, an innumerable amount of rare items flowed through Heavenly Star City from the Scattered Star Seas each year.
In addition, Heavenly Star City had another reason for attracting so many cultivators. The Star Palace had set up a transportation formation in the city that led directly to the Outer Star Seas.
So long as someone paid a large sum of spirit stones, they could teleport to many of the "Demon Beast Islands" of varying sizes in the Outer Star Sea. These isolated islands were established by previous generations and all contained Spiritual Qi. When one arrived at these islands, cultivators would be able to kill all sorts of demon beasts in the nearby seas and sell off the demon cores for spirit stones back at Heavenly Star City.
As for the value of spirit stones, a grade five demon beast core could be sold for nearly a thousand spirit stones. As for grade six spirit stones, the profits would be enough to fund a Foundation Establishment cultivator for a lifetime. As such, a significant amount of cultivators annually came to Heavenly Star City to use the transportation formation.
After all, flying directly to the Outer Star Seas without using the transportation formation would not only take an extremely long amount of time, it would also be extremely dangerous to fly unguided like a headless housefly.
With that in mind, Han Li decided to go to Heavenly Star Island with nearly no deliberation. Regardless of safety or acquisition of demon cores, he felt an attraction to this city by no small amount.
Of course, there were other powers of varying strength apart from the Star Palace in the Scattered Star Seas, such as: the Four Freedoms Merchant Alliance, the Devilcharm Sect, the Three Immortal Sect, Night Dragon Island, and so on. Of course, Zenith Yin Island and the Six United Palaces were significant powers as well.
After Han Li silently sorted this information in his mind, he took out a map of the Scattered Star Seas and carefully looked at it. Having decided his destination, Han Li pierced through the air, turning the Divine Wind Boat into a white streak of light.
Several months later, a white light streaked past the air above the sea. Standing on the boat was Han Li, tired from the long, nonstop travel.
Such a long and arduous journey was actually a rare experience for Han Li. This was because during his entire journey, he attempted to cultivate the Great Development Technique while flying on his magic tool without end.
From the very start, multitasking had proven extremely challenging, and a technique that divided one's consciousness to control numerous puppets wasn't exactly easy to cultivate. As he split his attention while cultivating, he had frequently made many errors.
The Divine Wind Boat would occasionally begin to fly off at an angle, leaving him unable to concentrate on splitting his divine sense. He hadn't made any progress for several days, but the old adage proved true that practice really does make perfect. After countless attempts and distractions, Han Li was eventually able to forcefully cultivate the Great Development Technique while flying.
However, Han Li had given up on multitasking and focused on flying forward while standing at the front of the Divine Wind Boat.
Half a month later, Han Li judged that he had arrived near Heavenly Star City given the arrangement of the desolate islands he had passed and felt his heart stir with excitement.
After a short moment more, Han Li's expression slightly changed after he vaguely saw a black dot in the distance that seemed to appear huge.
Han Li instantly stamped down on his magic tool, expediting his arrival.
Chapter 390: Huge City
A moment later, the black dot in the distance gradually grew larger as he approached, slowly revealing a vast black shadow. Although he still couldn't see it clearly, its prominent silhouette left Han Li awed by its astonishing magnificence.
When Han Li flew somewhat closer, he was able to roughly make out the contents of the shadow. It was a city, an enormous city that spanned the entire island.
But what caused Han Li the greatest astonishment was that the city was entirely different than those he had seen before. It wasn't laid out on flat land; instead, the sky towering mountain at the center of the island serve as the foundation and the buildings were built in concentric circles around it.
The bottom of the huge mountain had rows and rows of buildings that spanned to the very edges of the island without a single gap.
This was without a doubt Heavenly Star City, the largest city in the Scattered Star Seas.
From the sky, the densely packed buildings appeared as small as ants. The scene left him shocked until he was about twenty kilometers away from the island, at which point he was forced to slow down his Divine Wind Boat.
Han Li was no longer alone in the nearby sky. Streaks of light far and near started to occasionally appear, flying towards Heavenly Star City.
Han Li inwardly sighed. Heavenly Star City's reputation was well deserved. Even at such a far distance away, he saw many cultivators.
Once he was about ten kilometers away, there were an even greater number of various colored lights flying about. He even saw a few huge ships beneath him, cutting through the wind and waves.
But what rendered him speechless were the cultivators that chose to sail on small boats or even ride on low grade demon beasts on the sea instead of flying on a magic tool.
Han Li shook his head. After recovering from his awe, he accelerated into a streak of light. After a short moment, arrived at the shore of Heavenly Star Island.
He had now discovered that the island was surrounded by a lofty stone wall about a hundred meters high. Han Li was also able to make out that the expansive sea walls had over a dozen gates of various sizes.
While there were ports intended for mortal ships and bays for resting demon beasts, the obvious majority of incoming traffic, the lone cultivators, entered the city through the small gates. As such, Han Li flew towards a small city gate in a streak of azure light.
Although it was one of the smaller gates, when Han Li neared it, he saw that the gate was over twenty four meters tall and couldn't help but laugh at himself with a faint smile.
In front of Han Li stood a dignified, azure-clothed woman whose cultivation seemed to be mid Foundation Establishment. Standing beneath the city gate, she was elegantly speaking to two white-clothed cultivators. After she handed over a few spirit stones, she casually donned a blue ring they had given her and entered the city with light steps.
Han Li then calmly walked over with Crooked Soul.
"Do you two plan to temporarily stay here or do you plan to take long term residence? If… Huh! So it turned out to be a senior! Senior, welcome to Heavenly Star City! According to the laws of the city, Core Formation cultivators are allowed free long term residence in the city. This is an identity ring. Please carefully hold onto it!"
The white clothed cultivator started speaking without blinking, but halfway through, he realized Crooked Soul was a Core Formation cultivator and hastily took something out from his sleeve. After sizing up Crooked Soul in surprise, he hastily spoke with a respectful tone and handed a red ring over to him.
"This is my first time coming to Heavenly Star City. What is this ring for?" Crooked Soul said with a coarse voice.
"The spirit ring is the certification of your status. Cultivators that only stay here temporarily wear a blue ring and only have to pay three spirit stones for entry. The spirit light on a blue ring only persists for seven days. Afterwards, the ring's wearer would have to leave Heavenly Star City or go to the city gates and get a new one. Red rings are for cultivators that take permanent residence. Ordinary cultivators are required to pay eight hundred spirit stones for it. The red ring's spirit light is everlasting and will memorize its owner once it absorbs their blood essence. As it will only shine for its owner, there is no need to worry that others might steal it." The white-clothed early Foundation Establishment cultivator gave Crooked Soul a neutral explanation and raised his hand to reveal a shining red ring on his finger similar to the one in his palm.
Crooked Soul silently nodded his head and took the ring, he then dripped his blood essence on it after some slight hesitation and placed it on his finger.
"I must trouble Fellow Daoist to give me a red ring! I also plan on staying in this city for quite some time." With a smile, Han Li took out eight hundred spirit stones from his storage pouch and offered it to one of the cultivators.
The two white-clothed cultivators appeared somewhat surprised, but wordlessly took the spirit stones and handed Han Li a red ring.
Han Li also dripped his blood essence onto the ring and wore it before entering the city with Crooked Soul.
The streets past the gate couldn't be considered either narrow or wide. It was more than wide enough for four people to walk through at once or perhaps two carriages. The side of the streets were lined with rows of limestone buildings. From a glance, one could tell they were mortal stores, and they had nothing worth seeing.
There didn't seem to be any cultivators on the streets with only a few mortals shopping and chatting; there was nothing present caught Han Li's interest.
After a quick examination, he casually lifted his head to look at the sky and saw that a great number of lights were flying about, each indicating a cultivator soaring on their magic tool.
The largest city in the Scattered Star Seas actually didn't have any air restrictions! It was going to make things quite easy for him and Crooked Soul. Han Li then took out his Divine Wind Boat and intended to take off before being interrupted.
"Sir Immortals, please wait!" A man from the side of the street shouted out, walking out from a store and respectfully saluting them. He was a lean man with a slanted mustache.
The two took a thorough look at him but found that he was a mortal that completely lacked magic power fluctuations.
Han Li revealed slight astonishment and asked with a slight frown, "What's the matter? Have I met you before?"
The lean man spoke with a wide smile, "Hehe! My name is Lu Er, and this is my first time meeting these two Immortal Masters."
Having heard this, Han Li's expression darkened as he revealed displeasure. But without waiting for Han Li to speak, Lu Er hastily said, "This is your first time arriving at Heavenly Star City, yes? Certainly, these Immortal Masters are quite unfamiliar with the roads and circumstances of the city. Since I am a native, I know this city as well as the back of my hand. If these two Immortal Masters want to go somewhere or want to know where to handle their business, I could save Immortal Masters quite some trouble if I were to guide the way. My assistance only requires the payment of two spirit stones."
With that said, Lu Er gazed at Han Li with an expectant expression. He seemed to have already made out that the youth was the master of the two.
Han Li faintly smiled and replied, "So it's Lu Er? If your assistance is to my satisfaction, I will give you five spirit stones! But if you waste my time, I won't give you a single one!" Then with a mysterious smile, Han Li boarded the Divine Wind Boat without paying Lu Er any further attention.
As Han Li stood on his boat, he gazed at Lu Er to the side.
At this moment, the mortal's face incessantly shifted between dark and clear. After he saw Han Li gazing at him, he silently gritted his teeth and said, "Alright! I will follow Immortal Master! I will definitely satisfy the Immortal Masters' expectations."
Han Li faintly nodded his head indifferently and tapped his Divine Wind Boat, immediately sinking it close to the ground. Having seen this, Lu Er hastily boarded and carefully stood on it.
Soon after, the Divine Wind Boat slowly soared and flew towards the huge mountain at the center of the island.
After flying for about a hundred meters through the sky, Han Li turned his head towards Lu Er. He saw that although his face revealed slight fear, he didn't show any signs of difficulty or intolerance. Inwardly nodding his head, Han Li casually asked, "It seems this isn't the first time you've flown on a magic tool. Do you frequently act as a guide for foreign cultivators?"
"Previously, I've assisted six Immortal Masters. However, this is only my second time flying." Lu Er spoke with a forced smile. The wind at a hundred meters in the air proved to be a bit too strong for a mortal.
Having seen that Lu Er's expression had turned slightly green, Han Li faintly smiled and raised his hand. With a flash of blue light, a layer of blue mist covered the entirety of the Divine Wind Boat, protecting the three. Lu Er's complexion immediately improved afterwards.
But without waiting for Lu Er to say any thanks, Han Li inquired, "First of all, tell me where I can find a place to cultivate in peace."