Chapter 433: Ninecurl Spirit Ginseng
As Han Li pondered about the information he had just received, he was also wondering whether or not he wanted to wade through these muddy waters.
Although he didn't know what was about to come, this strange palace in the sky seemed similar to the State of Yue's Trial by Blood and Fire and had been completely constructed by ancient cultivators. Although it contained many treasures, its dangers were quite plentiful as well.
Grandmaster Zenith Yin's unexplainable expression had scared him quite a bit. Could he be plotting something? Regardless of anything else going on, it would be wiser for Han Li to immediately withdraw.
However, he had gathered from those old eccentrics' words that this place only opened once every three hundred years. If he were to turn back now, he'd never have another chance. This was enough cause for further hesitation.
While Han Li was lost in thought, he suddenly heard the Bone Sage's voice.
"Youngster, do you have anything on you that Zenith Yin might want, by any chance? I can't think of another reason that he would look at you like that. If I guessed correctly, he wants to dispose of you!" Although the Bone Sage spoke indifferently, his words obviously contained a trace of mockery.
Han Li mentally snorted and replied, "If Island Lord Zenith Yin were to learn that your esteemed self is here, he'd probably be very interested. He'd almost certainly want to have a proper chat with his long lost master."
"You dare threaten me?" The Bone Sage asked sinisterly.
"I wouldn't dare! Given Senior's status and abilities, how could I ever dare to do so? However, it's probably in Senior's best interest to not take delight in other's misfortune. Else, I might accidentally have a slip of the tongue when my life is in danger and unintentionally implicate Senior." Han Li replied expressionlessly.
The Bone Sage remained silent for some time.
Han Li believed he had flown into a rage from embarrassment and didn't wish to speak with Han Li any further. But that had only been greater cause of shock when he suddenly heard a string of icy words that left him pleasantly surprised.
"Do you wish to form a Nascent Soul?
"Senior, what are you getting at?" Han Li asked, forcefully restraining the excitement within his heart.
"Hehe, what do I mean? My words were quite simple. I know of an item that will double your chances of forming a Nascent Soul. It's located in Heavenvoid Hall. There's no other item that can do this. If you join hands with me and seize the opportunity to eliminate my traitorous disciple Zenith Yin, I will tell you the method for acquiring it. How about it? Since I cultivated the Dao of the demon ghost, I can't use this item. Otherwise, I wouldn't have even mentioned it to you. And even if you do not agree to join hands with me, it seems that Zenith Yin will take the initiative to find you either way. When that time comes, hehe…" The Bone Sage made use of the carrot and the stick while expressing his unconcealed malice towards Grandmaster Zenith Yin.
Han Li didn't immediately decide. He instead sat in silence and frowned, deep in thought.
The Bone Sage's youthly incarnation also appeared quite calm and unhurried. He believed a Core Formation cultivator was incapable of refusing such a huge offer. He just needed to calmly wait for Han Li's eventual agreement.
At that moment, Grandmaster Zenith Yin and Wu Chou flew to the old Confucian scholar's pillar and chatted intermittently, occasionally saying something to the beautiful woman surnamed Wen.
However, the beautiful woman closed her eyes after she finished polishing her sword. It seemed she didn't pay them any attention.
Grandmaster Zenith Yin didn't appear angry or embarrassed at this cold treatment and continued to speak with a smile. It was clear he's the shrewd type.
Han Li slightly brought these people into his gaze and grew increasingly fearful of Grandmaster Zenith Yin. Not only was this person’s cultivation deep, but his wits far exceeded that of ordinary cultivators. What else could have forced the Bone Sage to tread the Dao of a demon ghost and abandon his path to reincarnation? The Bone Sage clearly hated not being able to grind his traitorous disciples bones and scatter their ashes.
However, regardless of the resentment between the old devils Bone Sage and Zenith Yin, Zenith Yin's gaze towards Han Li was far from friendly.
Although it can't be said that he had no chance of escaping from a Nascent Soul cultivator, in a true confrontation that possibility was pathetically small.
After all, there was too great of a difference between early Core Formation and the Nascent Soul stage. Even if his magic treasure and Gold Devouring Beetles were even more powerful, he would still be slaughtered without much effort on their part.
After some consideration, Han Li eventually responded to the Bone Sage, "Give me an explanation of that item you mentioned. Does it have anything to do with what you said about becoming a Nascent Soul cultivator?"
"Of course. So long as you are willing to join hands with me, I will unquestionably divulge a few things to you." The Bone Sage was slightly delighted and stealthily replied.
Han Li didn't immediately respond and bluntly closed his eyes, pretending to refine Qi.
"The item is called Ninecurl Spirit Ginseng. It is an item of transformed Heaven-Earth Spiritual Qi. Although its main body is a spiritual herb, its pure spiritual nature causes it to transform into an animal or insect, allowing it to move about on their own. It is quite good at hiding. Many years ago, I saw this item in the Heavenvoid Hall. At the time, my cultivation was far too low, and I didn't have any appropriate magic tools on hand. As such, I was forced to let it go. The second time I came here, I was at the Nascent Soul stage and no longer needed to waste the effort to acquire it. But it should prove quite useful to you." The Bone Sage spoke as if he had been unwilling to let it go.
"Ninecurl Spirit Ginseng?" Han Li took a cold breath.
Han Li had long known of this legendary immortal herb. Although Han Li had often seen this herb mentioned in ancient medicine herb records, he believed this item had appeared in the mortal world during times of antiquity. Could this item actually exist in Heavenvoid Hall?
Nevertheless, discovering one or two stalks of such an immortal herb wasn't impossible.
However, this was that first time that he heard the Ninecurl Spirit Ginseng was useful in condensing a Nascent Soul. The records had always been vague about its specific uses and hardly mentioned them.
'Could this old devil have lied to me so that I would cooperate with him?' Han Li suspected.
Perhaps having guessed Han Li's doubt, the Bone Sage continued, "Be at ease! When we break through the barrier, I will first help you acquire this item at the second pass. Then after we eliminate my traitorous disciple, I will give you a secret recipe. So long as you create the medicine pill in accordance to its instructions, it will greatly increase your odds of condensing a Nascent Soul. However, I've also come to Heavenvoid Hall in search of useful cultivation materials. When the time comes, you will have to lend me your assistance so that I might prove more successful." The Bone Sage took the initiative to eliminate Han Li's doubts and raised a condition that answered a majority of Han Li's suspicions.
"Fine! If you're truly certain about being able to kill Zenith Yin, I might lend my assistance." Han Li eventually agreed to forming a temporary alliance with the Bone Sage.
In truth, this alliance was quite weak, and it was quite difficult to say how long it would last. Perhaps it would even fracture immediately after Grandmaster Zenith Yin had been killed.
Han Li inwardly let out a long sigh.
From the old devil's tone, this actually wasn't his first time here. Having an experienced ally was far better than fumbling around on his own. At the very least, he could learn a bit about the basics of Heavenvoid Hall and unquestionably trust the Bone Sage's desire to kill Grandmaster Zenith Yin.
With that, Han Li and the Bone Sage came to an agreement, and Han Li started to make some indirect inquiries about the Heavenvoid Hall.
After having a long, stealthy chat with the Bone Sage, Han Li's expression became unsightly. It seemed that opportunity and danger walked hand in hand. This trip to the Heavenvoid Hall in particular would prove to be extremely dangerous.
He couldn't help but sigh. Soon after, his mind drifted and he began to refine Qi in meditation.
Inside the hall, Han Li didn't need to worry about any sudden attacks. From his earlier tests,apart from some floating techniques and other such minor magic techniques, any other techniques couldn't be cast. Any magic power used past a certain point would dissolve. Even the magic treasures contained in one’s body would be like a dead, magicless object.
These restrictions were amazing!
In the following week, the cultivators in the hall grew more and more numerous, eventually gathering over a hundred people.
The jade pillars had long been filled by other cultivators. Those that came later could only find a spot to sit on the floor and rest there for the time being.
Chapter 434: Gathering
Fewer and fewer cultivators arrived until many days later when the gradual flow ceased.
However, Grandmaster Zenith Yin and the old Confucian scholar were sitting in silence with solemn expressions. They would occasionally sweep their gaze across the room as if they were waiting for something.
'Could they be waiting for Man Huzi?" Han Li naturally noticed this and was very curious. As such, he also kept an eye out.
When afternoon arrived, footsteps could be heard from the entrance of the hall. With several flashes of blue radiance, two people walked into the hall one at a time. One of them was an old Daoist with a reddish complexion, and the other was an old man dressed as a farmer with a bitter expression on his thin, dark face.
After these two appeared, the cultivators in the hall became restless. A majority of people looked at the two with a trace of respect.
It seemed these two were quite famous.
Grandmaster Zenith Yin and the old Confucian scholar looked at them with ill intent. Grandmaster Zenith Yin's expression was particularly harsh.
The two newly arrived experts returned the other party's hostile gazes upon seeing them. The old Daoist snorted and said, "Old Devil Zenith Yin! You've arrived quite early. It seems you of the Devil Dao are quite determined to come out on top during this Heavenvoid Hall."
"Tian Wuzi1! It isn't that this Grandmaster arrived early but you hypocrites arrived far too late. As I was of the opinion that your map fragment's information was false, I wasn't expecting you to arrive. This also good. This Grandmaster now has the opportunity to surpass you." Grandmaster Zenith Yin responded with a sinister expression.
"Who is it that you think you're going to surpass, Zenith Yin? Please, enlighten us!" Without waiting for the old Daoist to strike back, another voice resounded throughout the hall.
When Zenith Yin and the old Confucian scholar heard the new voice, their expressions greatly changed. The taciturn beautiful woman suddenly raised her head and coldly spoke while staring at the hall's entrance.
"Wan Tianming2, you've arrived!"
"It seems Lady Wen has also arrived. Why does my appearance surprise you?" After this was said, a blur shot in from the outside and revealed a middle-aged man with a violet robe and jade belt.
This person had a squarish face and a large brow with white shiny teeth. He indifferently glanced at the beautiful woman before turning his gaze towards Grandmaster Zenith Yin. His very presence exuded an imposing aura.
Grandmaster Zenith Yin shut his lips with an eerie expression and remained silent in response to this man's blunt gaze.
This greatly shocked Han Li. He couldn't help but closely examine the new arrivals. Han Li bewilderedly guessed that since an early Nascent Soul cultivator such as Grandmaster Zenith Yin was somewhat fearful of them, this person must be a mid Nascent Soul cultivator!
From what he saw, the three new arrivals should be cultivators of the Scattered Star Seas' Righteous Dao. As for Zenith Yin and the others, they should be of the Devilish Dao.
The earlier restlessness of the hall had been immediately quelled by the middle-aged man's arrival. Only the faint whispering of "Sect Master of the Myriad Gates of Enlightenment" could be heard.
Obviously, the middle-aged man seemed to have a higher status when compared to the other two.
"Wan Tianming, was my sword attendant injured by one of your disciples?" The beautiful woman surnamed Wen asked this question without restraint as if fearless of this person.
"That is obviously untrue. It was just that my sect's disciples saw that your sword attendant's cultivation was quite good and they merely wanted to swap pointers. Could it be that Lady Wen wishes for a violent escalation of hostilities over such a small matter?" Wan Tianming's eyes narrowed as he spoke with an indifferent expression.
"Swapping pointers? My sword attendant is only at early Foundation Establishment. Your disciples were clearly bullying her and deliberately embarrassing our sect." The beautiful woman's face grew cold.
"Humiliate Madam's sect? I don't dare! For the sake of the Archsaint's reputation, I will later have those disciples offer you their humble apologies." The middle-aged man slightly frowned and spoke without much care.
"What does this matter of mine have to do with my lord husband? If you are unwilling, then how about I use my Virtuous Duality Sword Arts to swap pointers with Sect Master Wan?" The beautiful woman became even more furious at his words.
"Compare notes with Lady Wen? Let's forget that. If the Archsaint of the Six Paths3 were to know that I bullied his wife, he would seek my life. I don't wish to incite a great war between the the Righteous and Devilish Dao." Wan Tianming chuckled as if he found it ridiculous.
When the beautiful woman heard this, her face reddened. After a final glare, she dropped the matter.
While the beautiful woman had let the matter drop with the middle-aged man, the middle-aged man was unwilling to do the same with Grandmaster Zenith Yin. He sneered at Grandmaster Zenith Yin. But just as he though to say something, a rumble vibrated from the passage and faintly shook the entire hall.
Apart from the Nascent Soul eccentrics, all of the cultivators looked towards the entrance with alarm.
Grandmaster Zenith Yin and the old Confucian scholar looked at each other with a hint of concealed joy. However, Grandmaster Zenith Yin's happy expression seemed forced.
Wan Tianming's eyes coldly glinted and flashed with sharp killing intent. The old Daoist and the old farmer also seemed to know who was coming and revealed a trace of worry.
The vibrations soon grew stronger and more frequent, eventually revealing an exceptionally tall figure.
A blue-robed eccentric with a yellow curly beard suddenly walked in. It seemed that his every step caused the entire hall to sway as if he weighed over six thousand kilograms.
Under everyone's amazed gazes, he took note of the people within the hall without any regards before settling his eyes on Wan Tianming and burst into laughter.
"I didn't think that great Sect Master Wan would come here. It seems it was correct for me to come here. I had always wished to contest myself against Sect Master Wan but it is unfortunate that I've never had the opportunity until now." The eccentric looked at the middle-aged man with a provocative gaze.
"I too have looked forward to witnessing Brother Man's Heaven Enduring Arts, reputed to be the greatest defensive devilish art in the Scattered Star Seas." Wan Tianming coldly glanced at the eccentric and fearlessly replied.
"Hehe! Well said, well said! I have been looking forward to experiencing Sect Master Wan's True Heavensifting Arts." The eccentric widely grinned with unconcealed eagerness.
Unfortunately for him, Sect Master Wan didn't wish to cause an incident at present. He softly spoke to the old Daoist and the old farmer before the three flew up toward a jade pillar.
Afterwards, the old Daoist spoke to the old Core Formation cultivator on the pillar with a smile. The Core Formation cultivator then vacated the pillar as if he had received a great favor and moved to a different place
When the eccentric saw this, his face held a trace of mockery. After raising his head and looking around, his body suddenly blurred before reappearing on a jade pillar.
As chance would have it, the jade pillar happened to be Han Li's.
When Han Li saw this, his expression turned to shock.
"Get lost. This place is mine." Just as the eccentric appeared on the pillar, he icily spoke to Han Li with a cold stare.
Han Li's expression abruptly turned unsightly, and he involuntarily clenched his sleeved fists with force. He stayed silent, thinking of forcefully staying a moment. But he soon jumped off the jade pillar, followed by the wild laughter of the eccentric.
Han Li's face was covered in an icy frost. Although it was extremely embarrassing, he could only endure it for the time being.
After all, the hall's restrictions may be able to prevent cultivators from acting, but he wasn't sure whether or not these restrictions had as large of an influence on a Nascent Soul cultivator. He didn't wish to put his life at risk by allowing himself to be overwhelmed with emotion.
Suppressing a bellyful of grievances, he found a clean spot on the floor and sat down. The old Confucian scholar asked the eccentric with a beaming smile, "Brother Man arrived quite late. I had believed that Brother Man had changed his mind. Did you not intend to come?"
"How could that be possible? I had come to the Heavenvoid Hall in hopes of refining life lengthening pills! It was just that a few matters along the way had delayed me. As for Wan Tianming's arrival, I was quite amazed. Could it be that he knew that the life extending fruit had ripened and also wanted to pick a few of them?" The eccentric stroked his yellow beard and spoke with slight doubt.
"I'm not sure. However, there are countless other exceptional treasures in the Heavenvoid Hall. Who knows what he came here for?" The old Confucian scholar spoke with doubt.
Grandmaster Zenith Yin seemed to have thought of something and worryingly said, "Wan Tianming is among the top leading figures of the Righteous Dao. Does he intend to strive for the Heavenvoid Cauldron?"
"Heavenvoid Cauldron? That's impossible! If that item were so easily obtained, it would've long been taken away by other cultivators before they ever got the chance." Without waiting for Man Huzi4 to reply, the old Confucian scholar shook his head like a rattle drum.
ED: Han Li agreed as the main character of the story had only just arrived, so how could the macguffin have already been taken?
Naturally.The 悟子Wuzi in his name can mean enlightened one. ↩ Quite suitably, his name 天明 Tianming means dawn or daybreak. ↩ His title, 六道 Six Paths, references the Six Paths of Reincarnation. ↩ His name 蛮胡子 Man Huzi could translate to Rough/Barbaric/Tyrannical Beard. ↩