Chapter 455: Another Surprise
"Humph! Do you truly believe that you get to decide whether or not you go? If you don't go with us, this young lord will kill you here. Did you truly believe that our Zenith Yin Island wouldn't dare to act due to the words of the Star Palace enforcers?" Wu Chou's small eyes ominously glinted.
Although Wu Chou had been previously warned by Grandmaster Zenith Yin, he still attempted to threateningly pressure Han Li. Wu Chou felt Han Li was truly displeasing to the eye. The malice he felt towards Han Li was nearly innate, born from no particular reason.
Han Li found this feeling mutual. That recent outburst was merely met with an indifferent glance. Paying no further heed to Wu Chou, he spoke to Grandmaster Zenith Yin, "For a reason unknown to me, Senior requires this Junior's spirit beast. But this Junior is also well aware that if a spirit beast's master dies, their spirit beasts are incapable of recognizing another master. In addition, Junior is capable of ordering the Bloodjade Spider to self detonate during a moment of crisis. Surely, Senior doesn't wish to see that!"
Han Li clearly understood that Wu Chou was merely playing the part of a paper tiger. As such Han Li was unwilling to tango with Wu Chou and decided to speak with the true authority, Grandmaster Zenith Yin.
However, this action by Han Li caused Wu Chou to fly into a rage from the humiliation. After a hostile expression appeared on his face, he spewed a slew of profanities at Han Li. But he was soon stopped by a wave from Zenith Yin, "Good, I am fond of Juniors with courage and understanding. Since this island lord requires your Bloodjade Spider, I naturally won't drag you along without payment. Once we arrive in the Inner Halls, I will…"
Just as Zenith Yin was about to list his conditions, his expression suddenly grew sullen and he stopped speaking. He turned his head around to fiercely stare in a certain direction with a malicious look on his face.
"Let this Grandmaster have a look at you, eavesdropper!" Grandmaster Zenith Yin's voice was shrill and full of killing intent. He appeared extremely angry.
Han Li felt alarmed. He immediately thought that the Bone Sage had been discovered and was unconsciously pondering about how he should deal with this situation.
However, Han Li was surprised to hear an aged voice.
"Old Pal Wu, there is no need to be so angry. I merely encountered you by coincidence. Don't tell me you're going to attack?" A hundred meters away in the air floated a Confucian-robed old man covered in an azure glowing light.
It was someone Grandmaster Zenith Yin was quite familiar with, Layman Qing Yi!
"Fellow Daoist Qing! You followed me!" When Zenith Yin saw him, he grimaced, and his killing intent faded.
"What? Follow you? I was merely taking a stroll and happened to see Fellow Daoist Wu and this young Junior having a chat. So I thought I'd come over and say hi. I didn't think that I'd cause Fellow Daoist Wu to be so unhappy. Sigh, had I known earlier, I definitely wouldn't have acted so rashly." The Confucian-robed old man dryly laughed and spoke with a completely unconcerned tone.
He soon grew unconcerned with keeping up his own pretences and turned his gaze from the pale Zenith Yin to the Bloodjade Spider.
"Tch tch. This is a Bloodjade Spider? It is a truly rare spirit beast. From the analysis of earlier cultivators, this is one of the spirit beasts that are most likely capable of acquiring the Heavenvoid Cauldron. Its odds are far greater than your Fire Serpent or Wan Tianming's Gold Threaded Silkworm." Layman Qing Yi spoke, shaking his head.
'Taking a stroll nearby? While invisible?' After hearing the old man's shameless excuse, Grandmaster Zenith Yin grew furious. But his expression only grew gloomier upon hearing Qing Yi reveal the secret about the Bloodjade Spider.
After turning his gaze away from the Bloodjade Spiders, the Confucian-robed scholar examined Han Li several times before saying, "So this is the Junior that Old Pal Wu was concerned with earlier. This old man is also quite fond of guiding courageous and insightful youngsters. I am quite interested in taking taking him in as my disciple. How about it? I've never taken in a disciple before." Zenith Yin paled after hearing this.
"Take Junior in a disciple?" Han Li blinked several times. He didn't know whether he should be excited or cynical.
Zenith Yin's expression was icy, and threads of black Qi began to surge from his body. He spoke each of his words forcefully while staring at the old man, "Fellow Daoist Qing, what are you planning?"
"Hehe! I was only joking! Old Pal Zenith Yin doesn't need to be so nervous. If I were to truly take this youngster as a disciple, I fear Fellow Daoist would attack me without restraint. However, if Hu Manzi were to know of this Bloodjade Spider, would he back down?" The old man chuckled. A strange expression appeared within his eyes as he played the matter off.
Layman Qing Yi's words initially caused Zenith Yin to relax. But upon hearing him mention Man Huzi, he started to feel a strong headache.
Zenith Yin had originally planned to keep the Bloodjade Spider a secret and manipulate the others into driving the Righteous Dao cultivators away from the Inner Halls or have both sides suffer a mutual defeat. He would then use to the fire serpent to put on a display of being incapable of acquiring the treasure while secretly using Han Li's Bloodjade Spider to secure it. He alone would acquire the Heavenvoid Cauldron. As for his previous promises, he had never intended on keeping them in the first place.
But he didn't expect in the slightest that his meticulous plan would be thrown into disarray by this old cunning fox. He was uncertain about whether or not he could kill him to shut him up. And even if he were confident, he couldn't easily act and weaken his own side prematurely. After all, he still had the Righteous Dao cultivators to contend with.
Zenith Yin's face twitched when the old man mentioned Man Huzi. He had previously experienced just how fearsome Man Huzi's Heavenbearing Devil Arts were. Even with his newly acquired minor mastery of his Heavenwide Corpsefire, he didn't hold any confidence in facing that man. If by chance that man were to use the pretext of taking in that youngster as a disciple, then he would insist on taking the lion's share of the treasure. He wouldn't have any way to prevent it. Unless…
Seeing that he was no longer able to preserve the secret of the Bloodjade Spiders, Zenith Yin started to think of how he wouldn't suffer a smaller portion of the treasures.
At that moment, his heart stirred and he looked at the old man with an odd expression, faintly guessing the meaning behind his previous words. The Confucian-robed old man faintly smiled in response to his odd expression and transmitted a message to his ear.
Zenith Yin's expression started to ceaselessly fluctuate.
The old man's voice transmission was short and he quickly resumed speaking out loud,"How about this proposal?"
Without taking much time to think, Zenith Yin gloomily said, "Fine, I accept."
The old man revealed a pleased expression and said,"Good, this is how it should be." He then glanced at Han Li and unhurriedly said, "Now, between the two of us, who do you think is more suitable to become his master?"
After muttering to himself, Zenith Yin said, "Naturally, he will decide who will become his master. That would be a bit more fair."
The old man blankly stared for a moment before revealing a strange expression. But after some conderation, he nodded his head in agreement.
When Zenith Yin saw this, he wore a seldom seen smile. He then turned towards Han Li and indifferently said, "You must've already heard our chat! Your Bloodjade Spider is something that we require in our treasure hunt, something that we cannot declone under any circumstance. If you believe I won't kill you because you are the master of the spirit beast, then you are gravely mistaken. This Grandmaster happens to know of a convenient method to refine spirit corpses. If worst comes to worst, I will kill the Bloodjade Spider and refine it into a demon corpse. Since the Bloodjade spider's cultivation will greatly suffer from this, I won't do this unless I am forced. If you are afraid of any disadvantages that will result from being involved, then you can become either of our disciples and receive our protection. Also, you will acquire a portion of the treasure should we be successful in acquiring it. As you appear to be a smart fellow, you should know what to do!"
Zenith Yin calmly laid out both the carrot and the stick, causing Han Li's expression to change.
In fact, Han Li was inwardly cursing without end. Ever since the Confucian-robed old man had arrived, Han Li felt ill at ease as if the situation had taken a turn for the worse. He had originally wished for the two eccentrics to fight amongst themselves, allowing him to slip away in the ensuing chaos. But he didn't expect for the cunning old foxes to reach an agreement after only a few words.
Now, Han Li reckoned there wasn't the slightest chance that the Bone Sage would appear to help him.
As for using the Bloodjade Spider as a threat, it seemed it wouldn't have any effect. He reckoned that if he were to truly order the Bloodjade Spider to self detonate, Zenith Yin would rush to refine them. But as his life was hanging by only this thread, he couldn't afford to damn himself by angering these Nascent Soul cultivators.
It seemed that if he didn't agree, he would only be met with death.Chapter 456: SpoilerBecoming Zenith Yin's Disciple
Just as Han Li thought about saying something, he suddenly heard a voice transmission from Layman Qing Yi.
"Han Li, this old man hasn't accepted a disciple in his entire life and doesn’t have much longer to live. If you were to become my disciple, then my legacy, magic treasures, and all else will by inherited by you. You aren't going to come across such good fortune elsewhere." Layman Qing Yi's voice was full of allure.
Han Li understood that his words were certain to be overstated, but he couldn't help but feel tempted. Before he could even think it over, he heard Zenith Yin's gloomy voice.
"Youngster, regardless of what this eccentric had promised you, I want to remind you that this eccentric is a rogue cultivator, one who treads the solitary path. Apart from a desolate island, he has few other possessions. Even if you were to inherit everything from him, it won't amount to much. However, my Zenith Yin Island is different. Not only are there many cultivators, but it also possesses grand influence. As my own personal disciple, you will hold an unimaginable amount of influence on the island. Regardless of whether it's beautiful pair cultivation servants or precious pill and tool ingredients, this Grandmaster will allow you to select them. I also saw that you were walking quite close to the Exquisite Sound Sect's Fairy Violet Spirit. If you have any interest in her, it can be handled! So long as you pledge to be my disciple, I will personally bring her to Zenith Yin Island to become your furnace cauldron. These incentives should be much to your satisfaction!" Zenith Yin was very direct, listing off many conditions in a torrent.
However, this wasn't the end. The Bone Sage's voice soon entered his ear, "Youngster Han, take my traitorous disciple as a master. That way, we can look for a favorable opportunity to kill him. Don't forget, I am the only person who knows the pill formula for the refinement of the Ninecurl Spirit Ginseng. You had best do as I suggest, otherwise…" The Bone Sage's words were filled with an obvious threat.
Han Li inwardly rolled his eyes. Each of them had ulterior motives, and he would suffer greatly if he wasn't careful.
In his own mind, if he truly wanted to take a master, then he would naturally pick the Confucian-robed old man. Although he wouldn't receive many great benefits, he wouldn't become entangled with a hideous mess of relations. It would be far more peaceful, and he wouldn't be involved with any more quarrels.
As for Zenith Yin's medicine pills, beautiful women, and techniques, Han Li wasn't particularly interested. The talk regarding Fairy Violet Spirit interested him even less.
But with the Bone Sage's voice transmission, Han Li had to carefully reconsider. Solidifying a Nascent Soul was his next objective on the path to Immortality. Although it was still quite some time away, the pill recipe was still something that he had to acquire.
With that thought, Han Li lowered his head and started muttering to himself, pondering over what was to be gained or lost.
Han Li's expression changed several times over a short period of time before he raised his head. His next words were music to Zenith Yin's ears and to the disappointment of the Confucian-robed old man.
"This one has long heard of Zenith Yin Island's great reputation. Junior wishes to receive a few pointers from Senior Wu."
"Good choice, Han Li! This Grandmaster will first accept you as an in name disciple. When we later return to Zenith Yin Island, I will conduct a ceremony for you to become an official disciple. This Profound Yin Ring is a set of ancient treasures that I acquired when I was young, and I've given it to each of my personal disciples. Since it is both a keepsake and a protective treasure, be sure to properly take care of it!" Zenith Yin understood the value of striking when the iron was hot. He immediately took a dark grey ring off his hand and handed it over to Han Li.
Han Li accepted it with slight surprise and carefully looked at it.
The ring was just about as large as one would expect, but it was etched with a few mysterious talisman characters that released pale blue light. One could tell that it was unordinary at a glance.
As Han Li felt joy, he heard the Bone Sage scoff.
"Profound Yin Ring? It seems my traitorous disciple has cleanly eliminated any traces of my existence. This was obviously an ancient treasure that I had bestowed upon him, the Yin Yang Ring. He actually changed its name. Humph! Don't grow too excited. Although this Yin Ring can protect your body and repel attacks, the Yang Ring that he possesses can be used to restrain you. If you attempt to use it when you deal with him, you will only be meeting your own doom."
When Han Li heard this, he didn't reveal any peculiarities as he respectfully paid thanks to Zenith Yin. However, he couldn't help but inwardly sigh. With such a deep and cunning schemer as Zenith Yin by his side, he must be exceedingly vigilant. Else, he would suffer a terrible fate.
He now hoped that the Bone Sage truly had a method to kill Zenith Yin. Otherwise, he'd have to later join Zenith Yin Island and obediently become Eccentric Zenith Yin's disciple.
Besides, even if Han Li did want to become a genuine, obedient disciple, Zenith Yin might not be sincere in receiving him. Whether or not Zenith Yin would become hostile after all was done, was yet another matter to be concerned with. Faithfully following after Zenith Yin was not an option!
As of now, he could only improvise as events unfolded, since he didn't have the strength to do otherwise!
Although Han Li was well aware that the cultivation world was where the weak were prey for the strong, he hadn't felt such helplessness since he was at Foundation Establishment.
He had previously found himself in perilous circumstances many times before, but he was able to use the entirety of his strength to overcome the odds. But if he were to now confront a Nascent Soul cultivator, he wouldn't stand the slightest chance.
This all caused him to wonder whether he was born under cursed stars! However, this was a passing thought. He merely thought to follow after the Bone Sage and investigate the secrets of the map fragment from curiosity. Just how did he land himself into the eyes of Nascent Soul cultivators?
Han Li slightly regretted his choice. Suppressing the deep grievances that couldn't be revealed, he forced himself to act excited and happy.
Upon seeing Han Li wear the Profound Yin Ring and respectfully thank him, Zenith Yin was quite satisfied. After discussing a few things with the old man, he had Han Li follow behind him.
The day was nearly over. If they didn't hurry over to the canyon, they would be eternally trapped here. As such, Han Li retrieved his Bloodjade Spider before flying across the horizon with the others.
Along the way, Zenith Yin happily chatted with Han Li and took the initiative to point out a few mistakes in Han Li's cultivation, much to the benefit of Han Li. Han Li couldn't help but sigh. There was quite a huge difference in the path of cultivation for those with a guide and those without.
When Wu Chou saw this, his face carried a trace of resentment. Although he attempted to hide it with all his might, Han Li was still able to sense his immense hostility. Still, Han Li pretended to be unaware of this and paid him no further attention.
The four of them flew quickly. About six hours later, they arrived in front of a mountain that was about ten thousand meters tall.
This extremely steep mountain was made of black and grey stones. The mountain was cleanly split at its center in a supernaturally fine manner. It was even split through the mountain's foundation, producing a huge natural canyon.
But what was even more strange was the twinkling blue and red light that separated the center of the mountain into two. It appeared truly otherworldly from a distance.
Currently, over thirty differently dressed cultivators sat at the entrance of the canyon in silent meditation. Their expressions were solemn as if they were waiting for something.
Zenith Yin and the other three slowly descended at the center of the group.
Han Li swept his gaze over them, and discovered that the black-robed Yuan Yao was also among them.
When Yuan Yao saw Han Li accompanying the Nascent Soul cultivators of the Devil Dao, she revealed amazement. When Han Li turned his gaze towards her, she flusteredly turned her head away, not daring to meet his gaze.
Han Li was slightly surprised and faintly realized something. He then wordlessly turned his sights elsewhere.
He didn't see Fairy Violet Spirit or that youthful male cultivator. It seems they returned to the pavilion without any intention of undergoing the paths of ice and fire.
Although the meditating cultivators appeared solemn, they were calm and composed, each possessing an unordinary bearing. In terms of cultivation, a majority of them were superior to Han Li's. Although he didn't know how many of them possessed late Core Formation cultivation, he could tell that a majority of them held mid Core Formation cultivation. As for those that possessed early Core Formation cultivation like Han Li and Yuan Yao, there were only seven of them. However, all of them were collected and appeared full of confidence.
After Han Li finished his observations, he slightly frowned. There were no other Nascent Soul cultivators present apart from Zenith Yin and Layman Qing Yi. Seeing this, Zenith Yin found a good area and sat down. Wu Chou naturally followed and sat down besides him.
"Han Li, come rest beside your master!" Zenith Yin spoke, assuming the role of Han LI's gentle master.
Han Li didn't wish to approach the eccentric, but under Zenith Yin's gaze, he could only force himself to comply and sit beside him.
Chapter 456: Becoming Zenith Yin's Disciple